Everyone knows that those 15 minutes of lying with your head in the sink at a hair salon is the best part of your appointment since this is when your scalp gets a dreamy massage from a stylist. (A scalp massage is something I’d take over a back massage any day.) Besides just feeling plain amazing, though, massaging the scalp actually has a number of benefits, ranging from exfoliating away build-up to promoting stronger strands—which makes a strong case for investing in a scalp massage brush for hair growth (rather: the promotion of an environment that’s friendly for hair growth) and a healthier overall head of hair.
According to Kevin Mun, PhD, a product formulator and chief scientific officer of Venn Skincare, your scalp directly affects the health of your hair, and it is prone to getting clogged or facing external stressors just like the skin on your face. This means that if you overlook it, you could wind up experiencing dandruff, eczema, and even in extreme cases hair loss.
“Oxidative stress on the scalp can cause not only inflammation, but also aging of the scalp, which can result in hair thinning and hair loss,” says Dr. Mun. “Also, the clogging of the follicles on the scalp could similarly result in breakage, dryness, and even hair loss.” He points to studies that suggest your scalp health can impact your hair growth. This is why a scalp massage brush can be so useful—keep scrolling for how these work to improve your hair health.
Benefits of using a scalp massage brush
A scalp massage brush is a handheld brush meant specifically for scrubbing your head and is slightly different than the usual brush you’d use to style your hair. Scalp-focused brushes are typically smaller, round, and have silicone or plastic bristles versus the bushy, coarse bristles you’re used to with a regular brush. “These are used to clean the scalp and exfoliate dead skin cells as well as increase blood circulation to the scalp,” says Gretchen Fries, a Bosley Professional Strength trichologist. This boost in circulation is one reason why brushing your scalp can promote a healthy environment for hair growth. “Scalp massage brushes help stimulate the cells within the scalp, causing blood flow to increase and promoting the distribution of nutrients throughout the scalp and hair roots,” says Dr. Mun.
The sloughing away of scalp build-up can purportedly help with hair growth, too. “Brushes for the scalp help remove dirt and build-up that’s clogging the hair follicles on the scalp, which promotes hair growth as well as healthier hair,” says Dr. Mun. “The use of a scalp scrub while massaging can help remove dead skin cells, oils, and product buildup that can clog follicles and cause hair loss,” adds Fries. If a scalp brush isn’t quite your thing, you can turn to a trusty scalp scrub product for a similar effect.
Massaging your scalp regularly is also suggested to improve the thickness of your strands. “Research has shown that a scalp massage does this by stretching the cells of hair follicles, which stimulates the follicles to produce thicker hair,” she says.
How to use a scalp massage brush for hair growth
Brushing your scalp is not like taking a comb to your strands—there’s a technique to the practice in order to reap all of the benefits, which starts with using the proper brush. Fries recommends finding a scalp brush that fits comfortably in your hand so that you can easily work it over your head. Dr. Mun recommends one with round, soft tips and flexible brushes, and Fries adds silicone bristles are better in order to avoid tangling. You’ll generally want to steer clear of nylon-bristle brushes, which Fries says can cause tangles and breakage. The one exception is if you’ve got ultra-fine hair, in which case these types of brushes are fine to use around the hairline.
For the massage itself, Dr. Mun says it’s best to do in the shower while you lather your shampoo so that your scalp “is nice and stimulated, and the dirt and impurities are more effectively removed.” This is because the suds of your shampoo work to rid your hair and scalp of build-up, and the combo of this with your massaging fingers ensures that you’re hitting your entire head for the best effect. Plus, the running water will help get rid of everything that you’re sloughing off, so it makes for a cleaner sitch. When you’re using the brush against your scalp, move it around in gentle, circular motions. “Too much pressure, including tapping the scalp with the brush tips, could irritate the scalp and potentially lead to irritation,” says Dr. Mun. You can move over different areas for about five minutes each, according to Fries.
Treating yourself to a scalp massage is something you could do every single day. The more regularly you do it, the better results you’ll see in your hair health. Just be sure to clean the brush after each use. All you need to do is remove any hairs that are in the bristles, then gently wash with soap and water, allowing the brush to dry before storing it.
Shop scalp massage brushes
This new scrubber by Conair is really convenient, since you can hang it in your shower, and the handle is ergonomically designed for easy use. The round, silicone bristles give you just enough of a sloughing effect on your scalp without going too hard, and they also work to detangle even the mightiest of knots.
Shop now: Conair Detangle and Go Shower Massage Brush, $8
For a compact scalp brusher, the Briogeo option is small but effective. The round design and shape of the bristles work together to create a dreamy, massage-like sensation on your scalp, and it’s universally effective for every hair type and texture out there.
Shop now: Briogeo Scalp Revival Stimulating Therapy Massager, $16
Another drugstore find is the Vitagoods scalp brush, which gently vibrates to take your hair treatment up a notch. The flexible rubber tips paired with the light pulsating of the product together bring your scalp an invigorating refresh that feels so good.
Snag this mini scalp scrubber on Amazon, which ranks as a top seller in the scalp massager brush category. Despite its size, the product is sturdy and provides a good grip so that you can effectively work it all over your head for a thorough exfoliation.
Shop now: Wow Scalp Massager Shampoo Brush, $8
5. Manta Hairbrush, $30
The Manta Hairbrush is a flexible, sleekly designed option that easily glides over every curve and bend of your skull as it works to detangle and stimulate the scalp. The brush also works to smooth your hair with its rotating bristles that comb right through your tangles.
Shop now: Manta Hairbrush, $30